SNP won the council election and we’ll continue working to tackle cost-of-living crisis – Adam McVey
By returning 19 SNP councillors, the same as in 2017, this was the most decisive victory the SNP has ever had in a council election. With six seats more than the second biggest party, you need to go back to 2003 to find a council election that delivered such a clear mandate.
The SNP team of councillors is reflective of the city we aim to lead. Residents have returned more women in our group, broken through barriers by electing Scotland’s first Portuguese councillor and smashed the glass ceiling by electing our party’s first BAME councillor in the city. Councillor Matha Mattos Cooelho in Liberton/Gilmerton and Councillor Simita Kumar in Southside/Newington are just two of the new councillors bringing a wealth of experience and ideas to help drive our Capital forward.
Our team has a mandate to lead the city and implement the policies residents voted for. There is broad agreement on many of the major steps we need to take. However, day-to-day, the make-up of the council will need parties to work together.
I spent the last five years as leader of a minority administration. While I can’t pretend it is always easy, working together is what our residents expect. They rightly expect politicians to do the best for them and that means discussing our city’s challenges and aspirations openly. Whatever the exact make-up of the next council administration, I look forward to working with colleagues across parties to get the very best for our communities.
Immediately, our challenge is clear. People across Edinburgh are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and the action from Westminster continues to fail to help struggling residents.
Far from providing meaningful help, the UK Government is content to press on with policies that are actually making matters worse. Tory MP Lee Anderson claimed last week that the problem of food poverty was simply that people didn’t know how to cook.
Local foodbanks do great work dealing with the crisis and running courses on budgeting and cooking. The volunteers are amazing (including in organisations like Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts) but Anderson seemed to have missed the point entirely by boasting about the work of his local foodbank.
The Edinburgh Poverty Commission delivered robust recommendations that I began implementing as council leader, but they also left us with an inescapable fact: people in poverty need more money.
We need to invest significantly in housing in Edinburgh to make it cheaper and easier to get. We need to continue to reform advice services in the community to support people with whatever underlying issues they’re facing.
But we also need to make sure that when we have access to money, it’s in the hands of those who need it most, like the £6.5m from the Scottish Government that Edinburgh Council is paying out to families this year.
Our city needs a council that will fight poverty and never give up on our communities. What the UK Government is doing to our communities, our families, our children is shameful. Whatever the next five years has in store following this election, we will hold to our pledge of doing absolutely everything we can to help those most in need.
Adam McVey is SNP councillor for Leith